Archive for the ‘conviction’ Category

Are Blagojevich tapes enough evidence to convict?

December 11, 2008

The wiretaps portray what prosecutors call blatant corruption: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich scheming to barter Barack Obama‘s vacant U.S. Senate seat for a Cabinet post, an ambassadorship or high-paying jobs for himself and his wife.

But just how tight is the case prosecutors cobbled together as they raced to stop what U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said “can only be described as a political corruption crime spree?”

By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald talks about the criminal complaint ... 
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald talks about the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges during a news conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Former prosecutors and defense attorneys surveyed Wednesday say the recordings are powerful evidence that can go a long way toward landing a conviction and sending the governor to prison.

But some legal experts say prosecutors may have a tough time overcoming the fact that Blagojevich never actually sold the Senate seat.

“The weakness in the government’s case seems to be that Blagojevich schemed to do things but didn’t actually do them,” Chicago defense attorney John Beal said.

Blagojevich, 52, was arrested Tuesday. FBI agents said he used the economic power of the governor’s office in schemes to squeeze companies for kickbacks and get Chicago Tribune editorial writers who called for his impeachment fired. He allegedly threatened through a go-between to withhold state financial aid to the Tribune in selling Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs.

But prosecutors said the governor’s worst offense was a brazen attempt to sell the seat left vacant by Obama’s election. The asking price: secretary of health and human services in the president’s Cabinet, big-money jobs or campaign cash.

Blagojevich has not yet been indicted. He is only charged in a one-page complaint accompanied by a 76-page FBI affidavit. The government has 30 days to bring an indictment — a time limit that can be extended repeatedly if a judge gives permission.

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